AFC Wildcard Playoff-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (Prediction Jan.9,2016)

The Steelers and Bengals are both very familiar with each other. These AFC North rivals split the regular season series, with the road team winning in both meetings.  Cincinnati won at Pittsburgh 16-10, on Nov.1 and Pittsburgh won at Cincinnati 33-20, on Dec. 13. In the Pittsburgh victory, Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game with a broken thumb, an injury that caused him to miss the final three regular season games.

Without Dalton as a starter, the Bengals still won two of their last three games.

images-1Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh Recent Match-ups

2015
Pittsburgh 33 (A) Cincinnati (H) 20
Cincinnati 16 (A) Pittsburgh (H) 10
2014
Pittsburgh 42 (A)  Cincinnati (H) 21
Pittsburgh 27 (H) Cincinnati (A) 17
2013
Cincinnati (H) 20 Pittsburgh (A) 10
Pittsburgh (H) 30 Cincinnati (A) 20

For Bengals fans, hopefully the seventh time will be a charm for head coach Marvin Lewis who is 0-6 all-time in the playoffs. The Bengals franchise has not won a playoff game since 1990.

Cincinnati back-up quarterback, AJ McCarron had some good moments while filling in for Andy Dalton, however winning the first playoff game for the Bengals in 26 years will be tough mountain for the young quarterback to climb if Andy Dalton can’t go on Saturday.

We all know Pittsburgh’s success. Head coach Mike Tomlin is 5-4 in the playoffs, with one super bowl ring and two appearances in the big game. However, Pittsburgh is now down to starting its third string running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint comes into the game with only 24 career carries. With the running game handicapped, the Pittsburgh offense will have to rely heavily on Ben Roethlisberger, but Ben is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and capable of putting the Steelers on his back.

Cincinnati is 12-3-1 against the spread this season, but only 4-3-1 at home.

Currently 68% of the public is betting on the Steelers. I can’t blame anyone for going with the Steelers in this match-up. One day the Bengals will win a playoff game again, unfortunately for them, I see this season ending in disappointment once again. Right now it sounds like Andy Dalton will not play, but keep an eye on his status.  Bet on Big Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Mike Tomlin and the STEELERS -3.

Pittsburgh 27 Cincinnati 17

****Bet Sports Strong Rating A ****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

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E-MAIL: BETSPORTSSTRONG@GMAIL.COM

 

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AFC Wildcard Playoff-Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (Prediction Jan.9, 2016)

In the first NFL playoff game of the season, Kansas City will return to the where its regular season began, Houston, Texas.  Kansas City won at Houston 27-20, during the opening week of the regular season. Houston was an one point favorite going into that game.Texans Chiefs FootballSix weeks into the season, this playoff match-up seemed very unlikely.  The Chiefs began the season 1-5, but currently ride a ten game winning streak into the playoffs.

Houston, comes in at 9-7, champions of the AFC south after a 2-5 start.

Houston Texas Playoff Historyth-6

2012 season

Wild Card playoffs- Houston Texans (H) 19 Cincinnati Bengals (A) 13 – Jan. 5, 2013
Divisional playoffs- New England Patriots (H) 41 Houston Texans (A) 28-Jan. 13, 2013

2011 season

Wild Card playoffs- Houston Texans (H) 31 Cincinnati Bengals (A) 10 – Jan. 7, 2012
Divisional playoffs- Baltimore Ravens (H) 20 Houston Texans (A) 13 – Jan. 15, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs Recent Playoff History th_011

2013 season

Wild Card playoffs- Indianapolis Colts (H) 45 Kansas City Chiefs (A) 44- Jan. 4, 2014.

2010 season

Wild Card playoffs-Baltimore Ravens (A) 31 Kansas City Chiefs (H) 10- Jan. 9, 2011

 

Expect a defensive struggle, the over/under is currently only 40. The Texans are holding opponents to less than 13 points per game during their last nine games.

The Chiefs defense has also been on fire, allowing less than 13 points per game during their current 10 game winning streak. The Chiefs have won their last four road games during this stretch by at least 14 points.

When looking at two very good defenses like this, and offenses led by Brian Hoyer and Alex Smith, I expect the turnover battle and special teams to make the difference in this game.

The Chiefs rank 2nd in the NFL in turnover margin and have forced 29 turnovers on the season, the Texans rank tied for 10th and have forced 25 turnovers.

Texans are 9-7 against the spread, but only 4-6 as underdogs. Texans are also 7-9 on the over/under. Chiefs are 8-8 against the spread and 7-5 ATS a favorites. Chiefs are 8-7-1 on the over/under. Right now 78% of the public is betting on the Chiefs.

I don’t expect this game to be pretty, but in the end I think the Houston defense will limit big plays by Alex Smith, who must be the best quarterback on the field Saturday for the Chiefs to win. The Kansas City offense has struggled lately, and the past two weeks the Chiefs have also struggled to bury the Raiders and Browns despite getting off to early double digit leads.

Betting on Brian Hoyer isn’t something I’d advise you to do with your mortgage, but Houston has managed to win with four different quarterbacks this season. Behind a creative offensive game plan, I think the stars, J.J Watt and Deandre Hopkins help the TEXANS+4 pull off the first round upset. I am going against the majority on this one, even if Kansas City does pull out the win, I like Houston to cover.

Houston 20 Kansas City 16

**** Bet Sports Strong Rating C ****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

E-MAIL: BETSPORTSSTRONG@GMAIL.COM

 

NFL Week 12- Two Team Teaser Play of the week

We are 1-0 in the NFL this week after picking the Carolina Panthers against the spread over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

There’s some tough match-ups this week, but here is my favorite two team teaser for Sunday November 29.

Two-Team Teaser (-130)

Arizona Cardinals -3.5 at San Francisco 49ers

I love this Arizona team. I can see this game getting ugly, but 10.5 is a huge number for road team.  At 3.5 there is no reason the Cardinals should not cover easy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +10 at Indianapolis colts

The Buccaneers  are starting to find themselves. The defense has been playing well lately, and offensively, I see Tampa’s balanced attack moving the ball consistently on the Colts all game.

The Colts are already a little banged up with injuries and 0-5 as a favorite against the spread this season.  I like the Buccaneers a lot in this match-up, and at +10, I absolutely love them.

 

For my other NFL plays

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Carolina Panthers at Dalls Cowboys Thanksgiving (Pick against the spread)

We all know the Panther are 10-0. They are also 8-2 against the spread overall, and 4-0 against the spread on the road.  The Cowboys are 3-0 with Romo.  This spread opened up with Dallas as a 1.5 point favorite, but is now a pick ’em.

Dallas is America’s team, Romo is back and every game is a must win for the Cowboys. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the Jerry Dome, and the Panthers have to lose at some point,  so this looks like the perfect time for a Carolina loss right?

Carolina comes in with one of the leagues best defenses. Currently the Panthers are 8th in rushing and 7th in passing yards allowed respectively.  The Panthers also lead the NFL in turnover differential with 25 take-aways, while the Cowboys have a league worst 7 take-aways and rank 31st in turnover differential.  I understand Romo is back, but Cam Newton is playing at a MVP level. Carolina is also playing with a chip on their shoulders and will not take Dallas lightly.

This is a must win game for Dallas and not Carolina, however, with all of America watching I see the Panthers sustaining their excellent level of play and sending a message to the world.  The Panthers are for real.

I expect a great game, but I’m rolling with the Panthers EVEN

(Panthers 26 Cowboys 24)

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Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (Monday Night Football-Pick against the spread-updated)

The Browns are 3-6-1 against the spread this season. The Ravens are 1-7-2. The bottom line, right now neither of these teams are very good, and both are in contention for the number one pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

In week 5, as a 6.5 point underdog the Browns defeated the Ravens 33-30. The victory came behind a 457 yard franchise record passing performance by quarterback, Josh McCown.

josh-mccown-nfl-cleveland-browns-baltimore-ravens1-850x560
**Josh McCown will start for the Browns on Monday.

There’s not much appealing about this match-up other then **Johnny Manziel** getting the start, who may or may not have been partying this weekend in Austin, Texas.

I’m not a believer in Johnny Manziel long term, and my motto for NFL betting the last few years has been “Don’t Bet on Browns,” which I also used as the name for a fantasy team.

For the franchise going forward it is probably best for the Browns to lose and end up with the number one pick and move on from **Johnny Manziel, but this game is it for the Browns. If either **Johnny Manziel or Mike Pettine have any chance of being back next year they have to win this game. If the Browns can not win this against the Ravens and Matt Schaub then I see 3-13 as the best case scenario.

At 3-7, the Ravens have not quit, but without Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett playing, I actually see the Browns winning this game. In the end, Mike Pettine will still be fired at the end of the season and Johnny Manziel is not the answer, but for one night the Browns will win on Monday Night Football and hurt their chances for the number one pick.

I may never say this again this season, but I’m actually betting on the Browns -2.5

(Browns 20 Ravens 16) **With Johnny Manziel

**Updated on Nov. 25***

We now know that Johnny Manziel will not be starting, and the spread has moved from 2.5 to 3.  I originally predicted a Browns 20-16 victory and actually like the Browns even more in this game with Josh McCown starting.  With Manziel inactive,  this game just lost any sex appeal that it may have had, but I’m still betting Browns (I already did at 2.5).

Browns -3

(Browns 27 Ravens 20) **** With Josh McCown

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